Duck boat probe will check if coast guard rules were ignored
The investigation into the sinking of a sightseeing boat that claimed 17 lives will look at whether operators violated coast guard rules by venturing on to a Missouri lake as thunderstorms rolled in, a coast guard official said yesterday.
More than three days after the deadly accident, a crane attached to a barge pulled the amphibious duck boat from Table Rock Lake near Branson, where it was submerged in 80 feet (24 meters) of water.
Divers attached a sling to the 33-foot, 4-ton vessel, then raised and drained it, officials said. It was to be loaded on to a vehicle and turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board.
Coast Guard Lieutenant Tasha Sadowicz of the agency's St Louis office said the boat that capsized and sank was known as Stretch Duck 07. Like all 22 duck boats in operation in Branson, it was required to undergo annual inspections. The most recent was in February.
But Sadowicz said the coast guard's "certificate of inspection" placed limits on when the boats can enter the water based on wind speed and "sea state", which refers to the height of waves.
Sadowicz did not have information on Stretch Duck 07's limits, but said they will be a focal point of the investigation.
Some witnesses have said the lake was calm and the storm came up suddenly Thursday evening. Sadowicz said investigators want to find out if operators were adequately monitoring the weather and should have reasonably known a storm was approaching.
Turbulent weather has caused trouble for duck boats before.